Yesterday afternoon, Jeremiah Clancy, owner of Mama's Food Shop on East Third Street and Avenue B the last six years, sent around the following letter to various media outlets and patrons and others...
We'll run his letter in its entirety ... he pretty much nails the problems that small businesses face... and what the East Village has become...
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the closing of Mama’s Food Shop in the East Village, NYC as of last evening. After fifteen years in business (six being under my management) it is finally time to say goodbye. We have had many wonderful years and are forever grateful to all of you for eating with us and making our little place feel so special.
Due to increasing rents and property taxes, and the constant expenses that arise when maintaining an older building, it has become no longer possible to keep our doors open. I have no distain for the landlords in the East Village, for they are put in a precarious position of having an overhead that they too cannot afford.
Sadly, it is the small businesses that suffer from the escalation of the above market commercial rents and property taxes. I now join the ranks of Kate’s Joint, Zaitzeff, Life Café, and Lakeside Lounge; all business that have folded in a neighborhood going through a period of flux.
I look forward to seeing what the East Village becomes (Avenues A-C especially), for at this moment it is a neighborhood that is in the midst of change. Avenue B is a ghost town commercially, the community nature of the neighborhood has all but vanished, and it is over-run every weekend by a generation that has no vested interest in the East Village community except to visit on the weekends.
By no means is this an indictment to the new, younger generation, it is more of an admission that much of the steady business for bars and restaurants has moved to Brooklyn and the high residential rents have stripped the neighborhood of the artistic/cultured feel it used to be known for. Mama’s Food Shop has weathered these changes, including surviving the recession, but as these changes started affecting our business, I realized it was the end of an era.
I feel for those who are opening small businesses in New York City in this day and age. We live in a city where the Health Department has far too much power, the cost of the permits, inspections, and maintenance are so high it is impossible for a Mom & Pop operation to keep up with. I know the city needs to make income, yet I am afraid the ways in which they are doing this is going to cost all of our neighborhoods the character that we look for in this city. I am not against banks or chain restaurants going into neighborhoods, just nervous that this is all that will be left once the small businesses cease to exist.
I am a restaurateur and artist who has lived in and loved New York City for almost twenty years. Luckily, the city and its neighborhoods will always be going through change and I am excited for what is to come both in the East Village and beyond. I will move on, get a full time job, and continue to support the underdog small businesses in and around the city. I simply can’t run one anymore — it’s just too damn hard.
We'll be curious to see what happens to the space... we've always heard those rumors that a developer would by this corner space and put in a new apartment building...